So the frivolities are over, the obligations fulfilled, the promises made. The bride and bridegroom of the old year have been waved away, leaving the land to rest and await Spring’s wakening. The coloured lights, the glitter’s memory, the gleam of hope must warm us for a while as we prepare against Nature’s frozen sleep.
Yet there is an air of apocalypse about this year’s turning. Highest winds, heaviest rain, warmest recorded days – they march together holding their placards high to remind us – the world is old; it has no more to give.
So many good people have spent their winter festival in darkness this year: no coloured lights, no tinsel, no happy gathering of family or friends to warm their hearts, just the rising waters of burst rivers about their feet, the howl of the storm around their heads. Although there will always be those who smile and push the truth aside: next winter will be better, next year all this will be forgotten – although some will insist it is ‘God’s punishment’, and go about in sackcloth and ashes exhorting us to use coloured bins, to drink our own recycled urine, to store our sunny days in batteries as if that will somehow tip the scales, yet there is only one truth. We all know it, in our hearts.
We are too many.
I have this one wish. If you like it is my New Year’s resolution. It is not for me, my tenancy has nearly expired. It is for my children I ask that we please accept: there is a god – not some mythical deity reigning over an undefinable paradise, no, but a god whose existence is provable, who has us in her care. By our actions, rather than by cheap words and mindless ritual, we should honour her. Yet we turn our backs. We exploit her, we use her gifts for our own selfish gains. When, occasionally and understandably, she gets cross she reminds us of her power. In the tsunami, the earthquake, the typhoon, the epidemic or the drought. She is reminding us now. In fact, she is giving us our final warning.
Before the contagion of monotheism took hold our ancestors well knew Nature’s power – they grew wise in the art of living beneath her panoply and they prospered, in the terms of their time. They brought us to our place in the world of today. And no, I am not advocating a return to the grass hut, or the shadow of a new plague. Civilisation has brought many good things to the table; progress is not all bad. Conspicuous consumption, over-indulgence and greed – those things are bad; and no religion is needed to remind us of basic morality – that we can see for ourselves, whether or not we choose to confess it.
Somehow – peacefully, I would hope – we need to get some sort of grip on the numbers. We have to comprehend the selfishness of the individual when that runs contrary to the interests of our species and control our natural desire to multiply. If we do not do so, if we continue to delude ourselves that somehow technology can be made to stretch the resources of our planet indefinitely, then Nature will act. Humankind will become just another brief chapter in that dusty tome of evolution which nestles on a shelf somewhere among the stars.
The way of man is the pointless fight. It is the way of man that the final battle is always lost.
That is something we have to change.
That’s it. Sorry to add a sombre note, but there are some things I just have to say! Back to the stories next time….
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